Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hate Mail!

Usually the letters and messages I receive from people are positive.

But not always!

Sometimes I receive (drum roll, please….) hate mail!

I answer my mail. (Although I am SO behind right now because of my deadline and it’s making me a little anxious.) I especially love the letters that aren’t assigned by teachers because I know the motivation to write to me is pure. (Even if they want me to send an autographed picture.) (Or an autographed book.) (Or to get a role in the upcoming Sammy Keyes movie [which is NOT in the works at this time, and which I could NOT do anyway, even if it were]. It’s all okay because I know that they’re legitimately enthused.)

(BTW, and just for the record, I am also NOT a bookstore, so don’t get any funny ideas.)

(Do we have enough parentheticals here?)


Anyway, I also appreciate the “assignment” letters—the ones where a language arts teacher has the students write their favorite author and tell them what they liked (and maybe didn’t like) about a particular book. (There must be a nationwide language arts teacher template for these letters because the structure is very often the same. It starts with something about the student—their hobbies and their pets and their families and what sports or clubs or TV shows they like—then moves on to what they liked about your story, and then asks you—even though they’re sure you’re very busy—to answer their list of questions [which can range from one to a hundred depending (usually) on whether a boy or a girl is writing.])

(Parentheticals rock!)

Double anyway, I LOVE the teachers who have their students include a self addressed stamped envelope for the reply because when you get hundreds of these like I do it makes it SO much easier (not to mention cost-reducing) if there’s a SASE. (Publishing reality: If I get 40 cents for every paperback book that sells, and it costs me 44 cents [and rising] in postage alone to reply to an assignment…well, you can understand many authors’ reluctance to write back.)

But I do write back (even if deadlines waylay me sometimes) because I remind myself that if I was the kid writing and I never heard back from my favorite-author-in-the-whole-wide-world, well, I’d be disappointed.

(Even if it was an assignment my teacher made me do.)

Sometimes a kid who’s been given an assignment will write that they weren’t wild about my book. Fine. Fair enough. So I figure that they don’t really mean it when they say to please write back. I mean, they didn’t really like my writing, so why ask for more, right? They’re just trying to finish working the formula their teacher gave them for writing an author.

One of the two “hate mails” I received this week sort of falls in this “dreaded assignment” category. The poor kid just didn’t get Flipped, hated the two points of view, hated the “boringness” of it, hated the chick on the cover. This student didn’t pull punches either. BAM-BAM-BAM! They let me have it. And then I got a litany of things I could do to make the book better. BAM-BAM-BAM!

Like I’m going to start over and publish it again?

But then, in closing, this student asked me to please-please-please write back.

Cracked me up.

The other message was more along the lines of true hate—something I don’t get much of to tell you the truth. But this woman did not like the way Swear to Howdy began (I swear to howdy it’s hilarious, but obviously this woman does not have my sense of humor. And obviously she’s not a teenage boy.)

Even though this book has generated some amazing fan mail, she said that after reading the first few pages she wanted to return the book but instead did the world a service by shredding it.

(I think we can all feel a little safer tonight.)

Now, there was a time I would have written these haters back. There was a time I would have presented a defense. I don’t like to be misunderstood, or have my work misunderstood.

And nobody likes to feel hated.

But you know what? I finally get that there are people in this world who will never like you, no matter what you do or how much you try.

(And you double-know-what? There are some people who if they did like me I’d be worried. Like, what kind of a jerk am I that that jerk likes me?)

The same thing applies to your art—there’s just no pleasing everybody.

What it boils down to is acceptance.

I accept that not everyone’s going to like me.

I accept that not everyone’s going to like my work.

The best defense is to just let it go.


Unknown said...

Wow, I can't believe anybody would send hate mail to you, I never thought about it. (Especially not Flipped, My favourite book!)

But it does happen to all authors, not just you, so at least you can connect to other authors. I'm glad that you said that not everybody will be your best friend. I, personally LOVED the idea of switching perspectives in Flipped. In fact, I write stories as a hobby, and that inspired me to write a switching perspective book.

So I wouldn't have worried at all. Knowing the good book you write, I'm sure even the complainers and senders of hate mail will come around.

Anonymous said...

Aww,I'd hate hate mail):(even though i don't get any,its just sad) If they can't write anything nice don't write at all!I don't see the point in being rude....Because it doesn't have one!But sometimes it makes people feel bad.


P.S First commenterrrr!(:

Anonymous said...

nvm my bad not first commenter..(:::

Unknown said...

Revenge: It costs them .44 cents for the stamp, about .05 cents for envelope and paper, $6.00 to drive it to the post office and $1,000,000,000.00 in bad karma to send that to you. You win.

Teri Bayus said...

PS. (that post above was from Teri who happen to have signed on to her husbands account and forgot to sign off before posting) (you should see what I did to his FB postings) (Sorry)

Elizabeth said...

You're amazing (you just are), you're 100% right (about the fact that not everyone will like you, and it's often not such a bad thing), and Swear to Howdy was freaking brilliant. I'm not a teenage boy, and it made me laugh like a lunatic and cry like a baby, it was just so REAL... I really had an odd sense of respect for the book afterward, which of course rightfully belongs to you, because you'd written something so bold as to show both the good and the horrible in life, with no apologies. It was shocking in a way, but I truly love that book :). That lady with the shredder sounded like a wackado anyway (oh, and parentheticals are my favorite thing to abuse!) (yay for parentheticals!)!

g said...

Jeez! Those people must live under a rock or something if they DON'T like YOUR books! I mean come on, YOUR BOOKS????!!!!!( Who doesn't like your books??? I cant name one person I know that doesn't like even one of your books. Seriously.) I can understand someone else's books but NOT YOUR books! It's seriously insane. Psycho. Crazy... you name it thats what it is!
Anyway i LOVE your books and i'm not gonna let ANYONE tell me otherwise! Great Post!!! see ya next week!

Pooja said...

Well, obviously, that woman doesn't know what a good author is all about!
Haha, you'll always be one of my favorite authors!

Raisa Karim said...

I hate haters. And that makes me a hater. (does that mean i hate myself too??) whatever. I learned a loooooong time ago that trying to get back at someone only makes matters worse. The best way to sting 'em is by (not ignoring it which is what most people say) thanking them for their criticism because it will help them try to better themselves. That will leave them confused and pissed. PS. I love ALL your books (that ive read at least) the only ones i haven't read is the Shredder Man Series and Swear to Howdy (which is kind of a fail cuz thats one of the main points on this post). My favorite is Sammy Keyes (ive read them all so far!) and more specifically Hollywood Mummy, Art of Deception, and Wedding Crasher (because Sammy and Casey finally kiss!!!!)
I also love Flipped and Confessions of a Serial Kisser!!
PPS. I would nvr shred (or damage it any other way) any books no matter how much i hate them. I think books are a gift from God.

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Everyone, I loved all these comments, thank you!
@ Gary/Teri, that made me laugh out loud :)
@ Elizabeth, that's how I feel about STH, so thanks. She'll never know that it's a story about saving a friend and that's okay.
@ HGLover, it would be interesting to hear your comments after you read it.
BTW, don't worry that I'm losing sleep over this, I'm not. People who love this book REALLY love it, and that more than makes up for the few that can't seem to get through a little boy humor to a story about two boys wrestling with truth and secrets.
THanks again everyone!

Lucy said...

HOW COULD ANYONE HATE FLIPPED? How is that possible?!?!?! I'm amazed. I have now seen it all. I think it's really great that you write back. BUT, HOW?!?!?!?!?!?! Oh, well. Words are words.

Anonymous said...

I've never read FLIPPED but i want to.But like you said,The tricks on them.amimalsrcok64 i agree i never thought of her or any authors getting hate mail...I guess people like to speak their mind..


P.S more updates on Sammy?

Anonymous said...

Your post made me laugh out loud because those people hating on your books like that obviously don’t have anything better to do than sit down and hate? Anyway, I for one think all your books are amazing and, like, there’s a REASON you have everyone who comments here defending you and not hating, right? And there’s a reason you’re my favorite author and it’s definitely not because I don’t like your books. Because that would not really make any sense. So that brings me to my altogether conclusion/life motto: Haters Gonna Hate. I also like how you said, “Like I’m going to go back and rewrite the book?” I read that and was like (in my head), TRUE. THAT. Also I just cracked up when I imagined some lunatic actually shredding the book (which, I bet they didn’t really shred it and they were lying). I mean picture some creepo who literally shreds a novel because they hate it. I think the only time I ever hated a book so much I threw it away was in the fourth grade when I got a book from my teachers class and it turned out being all about some depressed girl who ended up slitting her wrists in her bathtub and dying in her own blood. It was called “Slam Book” or something. I was scarred for life, and then I buried it at the bottom of the trash can and four years later in the eighth grade, I told my fourth grade teacher that I threw away her book because it scarred me and was SO not meant for 10-year-old eyes, and she thought it was the funniest thing ever. Ha ha. Fourth grader reading about suicidal wrist-cutter. Very funny. Anyway, that has nothing to do with anything except for the fact that if they really did shred your book, then they don’t have LEGIT REASON to dispose of it. I mean, it’s not like THEY are a fourth grader reading about a girl slicing her wrists with a razor? RIGHT? So obviously they are schizophrenic and are imagining things in the book because, really. WHO WOULD SHRED YOUR BOOK??????????????????? Okay well, that is all. By the way, you should totally reply and your response should be only two words: “STUFF IT”. Hee hee its my new favorite phrase because it sounds a lot like suck it, except its STUFF it which is just hilarious. Can you imagine the haters’ faces when they see a reply in the mail and its just two huge words: “STUFF IT.” I would totally do that. But that’s just me. Well, goodbye! XOX

Amanda from Seattle said...

Amazing...Love Swear to Howdy (and not just because I have a signed copy!!) As a "nerd" I learned early on that some people won't like you and they won't like the things you do....but "you know who you are" (as my grandmother liked to say) and with a lot of self esteem fostered by a loving family, I can take the slings and arrows of the public like water off a duck's back! And when you have just one person in your corner who you admire then all those naysayers (no matter how many) are just blowing hot air. We all love you Wendelin!!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry I'm back again but i though of something,Your know how they say they want you to write back?Well don't let them get to you.DO write back just ya know say,"Thanks for speaking your mind,I always like hearing what my readers think." I don't think that someone would buy a 15$ book and shred it...
Any who (funny word) I'm off to shred expensive books that i hate(just kidding:D).


P.S Amanda from Seattle,What was you teacher thinking,way to give a ten year old nightmares!

Anonymous said...

Oops,I meant Cammie.Srry

Rose Sellman said...

How would i be able to send you a (fan) letter? Do I send it though your publisher?

Bethany said...

Wait, I know you're not a bookstore, but if I sent you my own well-worn copy of Flipped, would you send it back signed or something? I am not trying to be pushy or anything, I was just wondering!